Mourning fries to help with loss of loved one

A few months ago, a dear friend of mine passed away. The heartbreak is still very real. This was the first person I lost whom I loved deeply outside of my blood family. He was my chosen family, my heart, my soul.

The night I found out, I had just got out of work. I cried nonstop the entire night and knew I needed something to heal me temporarily. I needed something….

So I came up with this recipe.

I call it “Rickey’s mourning fries.”

The act of chopping took my mind off him. Frying transformed a basic potato into edible goodness.

Carbs are a source of comfort and the potato isn’t so evil like people think. People go out and do so much worse to cope with loss like take drugs, drink, or take it out on others. In eating a potato, you may be ingesting extra carbs, but know that you just have to go outside and walk for an extra 30 minutes and walking can be meditative and healing so no harm no foul. Besides, eating a potato is not the end of the world, especially when you feel like you’ve lost the world a.k.a your best friend. 

This recipe includes a few potatoes, a little salt and a pepper, a little coconut oil. That’s it. Basic. Like Rickey. 

Ingredients:

Potatoes (2-3 large russet)

1 tbs coconut oil

sea salt

black pepper

Directions:

Chop the potatoes into wedges. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet. Toss potatoes in the pan and make sure they get coated in the coconut oil. Let it sit for a bit and then toss again, making sure the potatoes don’t stick to the pan too much. 

Cover potatoes and let the steam help them cook. Toss periodically until all sides of the potatoes have been browned. 

Place potatoes onto a plate and season with salt and pepper.

I like mine with a little veganaise because deep down I must be European. 

Enjoy the comfort of homemade fries and if you feel guilty for eating carbs, go out and walk for 35-40 minutes and use the time to meditate, pray, unite with the universe’s goodness. We may lose people we love but it’s only from this plane. Somewhere they are serving as angels. The abrupt departure only means they were urgently needed elsewhere. 

Ingesting a little carbs for comfort is grounding.  Avoiding emotions by taking pills is not. Gorging on food is not recommended either. This is about wading through our toughest moments, knowing that we will get through it, with a lot of love, a lot of forgiveness and understanding, and a little plate of fries. 

Re-growing food from scraps

I am obsessed with gardening.

If you would have told me this was going to happen a year ago, I would have thought you were crazy, but now I’m a freaking gardener and loving every minute. My hands are always dirty, I find my heart skipping a beat every time I see a Home Depot or nursery, and I’m always thinking about my gardens, my kids, and what I can grow next.

Since I now have four gardens I work in,  I have to plan lessons each week and find myself buying plants regularly. I do have a stipend to buy supplies, but I think it’s even cooler to be able to use already existing plants and scraps to re-grow things.

A few weeks ago I planted garlic in one of my gardens and it’s been growing nicely.

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I was blown away that I could plant garlic from one clove. I have been doing research on what can be re-grown and I’m currently experimenting with ginger, celery, basil, and onions. All you really have to do is stick the roots in water or back in the ground and they will grow right back up! Amazing shit and what’s even cooler is that these veggies are staples that are beneficial to health and if eaten regularly, can prevent sickness.

This is the season when everyone is getting sick because of weather changes. Immune systems go haywire. I know mine did. I was getting sick but decided to drug myself with ginger and garlic. I didn’t get full-on sick. I stopped it in its tracks and feel so much better for doing so. I see people around me using drugs like Claritin and Nyquil and it’s just not helpful. Not only will these drugs make you tired, they will also delay the recovery process.

So think twice before you douse yourself with these medicines. The real medicine is the food we eat that’s loaded with natural vitamins essential to our health.

Times are changing and we may just need to know how to feed ourselves when we have no markets or restaurants. We will need to know how to grow our own food, utilizing every source of energy, making natural living a sustainable, viable way of life. This is the direction that truly saves, inspires, re-energizes.

Gardening can teach you this. I was the least likely person to garden, but learning gardening re-enforces sustainable living, a sense of union with the community and kindness and peace within. It can heal. That’s what’s fascinating about using old food scraps. You can grow something out of an organism that we would normally throw away. Everything operates in a cycle. Life, death, rebirth. It’s amazing so think of everything in this way.

Another metaphoric lesson in gardening: preventing abusive environments

So I was driving home from one of the school gardens I work in, deep in thought about “Figaro,” a certain Fig tree we transplanted last week (The kids gave him that name). I’m often deep in thought after leaving this particular garden because it needs so much work. Since I only visit it once a week, I hate to leave because it’s like my child that I can’t see every day. I can only hope the children and teachers are treating it right in my absence.

When I came to this garden a little over a month ago, I was super overwhelmed by the overgrown grass, weeds, and dead plants. When we started removing the plants and checking out the soil to plant new things, we discovered root maggots! It has definitely been a challenge working with these bugs, to say the least.

I started thinking about soil, how it’s the most important element for all life forms to grow in. Everything starts in the soil and if it’s infected with harmful pests, it can really stunt growth.

I thought of Figaro and wondered if he was experiencing root shock because he came from a very nice garden and the Garden Ranger there only pulled him out to make room for new stuff to grow since they already had two large fig trees growing. Instead of throwing him away, I decided to re-plant him in this particular garden of mine that’s in much need of anything to grow in it.

I imagined Figaro’s tiny roots in new soil and hoped that he wasn’t too scared in this environment. I hoped that I removed enough of the root maggots in previous weeks so that they wouldn’t hurt him. I imagined him like an orphan or foster kid who might get placed in a new home with possibly strange, maggot-like parents/forces that might eat away at his roots/essence.

I began to wonder how many children are born or placed into infested soil and what effect this has on their development.

It’s not their fault. A root maggot didn’t ask to be born, same way as an abuser didn’t ask to be born into a poor home environment.  Everything starts in the soil/home, and if the home is jacked up, can you really expect something healthy to grow?

I began to think of the ways in which we can prevent abusive homes a.k.a. infested/damaging soil so that damaging pests and creatures do not grow and harm our future growing youth. This is what I really stand for, what I really aim to accomplish in my life here on this planet. I want to created places for all living things to grow in healthy, nourishing soil.

It was clear to me today that the solution is in prevention when possible. If the soil is not healthy, we must fix it. It’s never too late. The best way is to prevent conditions in which pests can be born. After doing some research on how to deal with root maggots, it is recommended /suggested that we remove dead plants and rotate them in and out with every changing season. I think this idea of constantly creating/constantly recycling every season, planting certain things like Marigolds and onions that discourage the growth of these pests, is the best way to go.

Pesticide and harmful chemicals is the easy way to deal with problems, much like what this country has done to many of its perpetrators by throwing people in jail or sending them to the electric chair. It doesn’t solve the underlying problem, doesn’t begin to get to the root cause. That’s what our society really needs.

Nobody had been in my garden for many many months and so many things were dead and not growing. When things don’t grow and are not removed, that’s when the flies come and lay their eggs and create the ugly pests that make sure no life can ever grow.

Neglect, lack of knowledge, create these problems. Same things in abusive homes.

Gardening has always shown me so much. Lessons that I need to learn exactly when I need to learn them.

I was a basic gardener early this year, but now that I’m a Garden Ranger, I am the one in charge, the one who decides what we do with our gardens, what we teach our children. I’m the one who has to fix the problems and bring the solutions, rallying the children, teachers, and the community to make this group effort sustainable, flourishing, beautiful. It’s a learning/teaching experience for us all.

The key is to never stop creating, never stop growing. To always keep the cycle of life flowing, we must spend every day caring because who else will?  It’s not a simple solution that can be fixed with one operation, one pill, one treatment of pesticide, with a jail sentence.

Our society needs to care. It’s just as simple as that. This is what we need to be teaching children. This is what children respond to.

New Journey: Yoga Teacher Training

I have always loved yoga, ever since the first time I accidentally stumbled upon it while at my dad’s house alone, watching TV before school. It was like 6am and my dad had already left for work, and it was too early for me to go to school, so I was just flipping channels on TV when I found this one station (The Oxygen Channel), and saw some people doing this weird exercise that I would later come to find was yoga. It looked interesting, so I began to try some of the poses. I’ll never forget the joy I felt while hanging upside down in the living room. I was 15. I’d found something to grab onto that totally changed my way of being, and I began practicing nearly every day after that.

Ten years later I started Bikram Yoga and fell in love all over again, and for the past five years my practice has grown stronger and stronger.

Now I’m 30, and doing my 200-hour yoga certification. Fifteen years later, I’m still just as curious as I was as a little teenager. I just started my training over the weekend and at first I was very nervous, one because of the money, and then two, because it’s a LOT of work. We have to do this daily meditation using mala beads and a mantra given to us by our instructor. Mine is pretty intense. The first day I did the meditation, I felt HIGH, like I was either drunk or just ate like ten weed brownies. The feeling made me almost sleepy. It’s weird. But it was this feeling of wholeness, completeness, like there was nothing further I needed to do. I swear it opened me up. I went to my Bikram class immediately after and was able to do so much and go super deep in certain postures, even though I hadn’t practiced in a week.

The training calls to me. I feel as though it is necessary right now, to heal, to grow. My mantra essentially is about coming back to the self, that which remains intact after everything ends. So essential to me right now. After all the things I’ve been through, relationships, jobs, things that we think define us. That’s not who we really are.

So the training is pretty intense. I have to read six books, meditate daily, practice daily, and actually log in 80 teaching hours, all within 10 weeks. Heh, if you are in the L.A. area, I can give you free yoga! I’m going to be practicing with friends and family but I’m totally down to practice with people I don’t know. SO…HMU if interested.

Of course I will share all the things I’m learning. It’s challenging for me not to write about what I’m excited about and is changing my life and helping me heal myself, and inevitably others. That’s what I choose to dedicate my life to: healing and love. There is nowhere else I need to be.

 

A musician’s soul

A musician’s soul couldn’t be more sensitive. To be in tune with the deepest emotions experienced by a human being, a musician must be extremely sensitive. With that comes potential for great pain, suffering and being misunderstood, which is the trade off. I was listening to Chet Baker this morning and relating to his song, “I fall in love too easily,” as well as the song, “Everytime we say goodbye.”

Musicians/artists like him and maybe even me, want to love deeply. We are intense. Something definitely cracked within me as a child that made me always seek to close up my gap. I think people who live with pain have to do things to ease their pain like play music, write, create in any way/shape/form. It might seem like a curse/burden/certain degree of suffering, but I think it’s what comes with the territory of being a creator.

There’s something beautiful that came out of Chet Baker’s ability to express the feeling he experienced when he wanted to love a person with all his heart and maybe they didn’t return the feeling. How could normal people ever return the feelings of a deep, intuitive artist?

Lately, I’ve been playing guitar again. Regaining the dead skin on the tips of my left hand fingers, watching my veins protrude more and more every day on my hand. I am in love with music. It’s the thing that I can do every day that doesn’t feel like work, that never gets old. There’s always a new place to go, something new to learn, and it feels damn great.

When other things have grown confusing in my life, sitting with the guitar pressed against my body feels grounding, like I’m connecting to a greater source of love every time I play a new tune.

I get inspired when I hear songs. I don’t feel alone in my deep feelings.

 

My spiritual writing cleanse Day 6: Something’s Gotta Give

One of my favorite movies is “Something’s Gotta Give,” written and directed by Nancy Meyers, starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. It’s about an older woman who falls in love with her daughter’s boyfriend who happens to be her same age. When I was a mentor with the WriteGirl organization I actually got a chance to meet Nancy Meyers and she’s totally this character.

The dude is a 60ish year old bachelor, total ladies man, successful owner of a hip hop label and she is a famous playwright who is a “tower of strength”, super successful, formidable. Anyway, they fall in love after he gets a heart attack while staying in her Hamptons house. She ends up taking care of him for a few days since he can’t go back to the city until the doctor clears him. It’s there when they fall in love. When they return to the city, she sees him on a date with a younger woman. He tells her he doesn’t know how to be a boyfriend and this totally breaks her heart. One of my favorite sequences of this movie shows Diane Keaton BALLING, CRYING while writing her script about their very relationship. She basically writes out her pain, lets it come out and it ends up turning into a very successful Broadway play.

I can say that I have had my moments with this type of feeling, like balling crying and not knowing what to do with your feelings. I’ve always dreamed of writing the way Diane Keaton did in this movie. I guess I never really had my heart broken like that until recently.  I know what that feels like to just cry like you never thought you would stop but eventually you do. But there’s something magical about crying. It cleanses you. I allowed myself to just cry and cry and cry until I had nothing left but energy to put into my creative life, so that’s where I am and I feel like myself again. Like Diane Keaton, I didn’t try to resist what I felt. I embraced it, let it flow right through me so the pain is no longer there.

This process utilizing Viki King’s book allows you to do just that, to purge whatever is inside of you that wants, begs to become a story. As I near the end of this random draft process, I feel like I’ve nearly released all that was inside of me. I will be wrapping up my first draft of this script within the next few days and I couldn’t be more excited.